The Mid-Hudson Region entered Phase 3 of the four-phased reopening process on Tuesday.
This area consists of Dutchess, Orange, Ulster, Sullivan, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester Counties. Phase 3 allows for indoor restaurants to reopen at 50 percent maximum capacity as well as nail salons, tattoo shops, spas and massage therapy, tanning and waxing businesses.
Before reopening, businesses would have to provide the state with a written safety plan. Employees and customers must wear face coverings and social distancing must be practiced. There will also be limits to buildings’ occupancy.
In addition to the 50 percent maximum occupancy rate that is placed upon restaurants and bars, customers sitting at the same table must be in the same party. Ten people total will be limited to each table. Tables both indoors and outdoors will be separated by six feet. Restaurant employees are excited to offer customers an additional dining experience and are eager for normalcy to be restored.
“It’s gonna make it a lot easier for people coming in who are having dinner or a whole pie,” said Joe Citta, manager of Giuseppe’s Pizzeria & Restaurant in Walden. “It’s very nice.”
Citta added that the restaurant’s employees will be cleaning surfaces vigorously to keep the business sanitary.
Workers continue to wear gloves and masks while preparing food.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo also announced that during Phase 3 gatherings of up to 25 people will be allowed, up from 10. The Mid-Hudson Region entered Phase 3 as the number of new positive cases, hospitalizations and deaths continues to decrease statewide.
“The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over and as we reopen New York safely and incrementally, the state government will continue to provide timely information so that New Yorkers can make educated decisions for themselves and their families,” Cuomo said Sunday. “Yesterday, less than 1 percent of COVID-19 tests conducted in the state were positive, which means we continue to be on the right path toward defeating the virus.”
Orange County has also improved. As of June 15, only 11 people in Orange County were hospitalized due to COVID-19, down from 236 hospitalizations on April 15. The death total has remained stagnant, with no deaths reported in the county since June 12. The City of Newburgh and Middletown led the county in positive cases with 1,577 and 1,196 as of Monday. The Town of Montgomery has seen a significant number of positive cases with 621 while Crawford only had 91 as of Monday.
Similar trends have occurred in Ulster County. The number of active positive cases continues to lower. As of Thursday, there were 308 active positive cases, down from the county’s peak of 1,009 on April 26. In addition, 897 people were tested in the county on Thursday and only three tested positive. The Towns of Ulster and Lloyd led the county with 75 and 44 active positive cases on Monday. Gardiner and Shawangunk only had five active positive cases on Monday.
With fewer and fewer positive COVID-19 cases, some local municipalities have begun to open their government centers to the public and will comply with social distancing procedures while at village hall.
Phase 4 focuses on the broad categories of arts, entertainment and recreation as well as education. The state has published guidelines that address all types of in-person higher education institutions including community and junior colleges, universities, graduate and professional schools, medical schools and technical schools. As of Monday, guidelines had not yet been published for arts, entertainment and recreation businesses.
Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus noted that he had a call with the governor’s office and was told that the Mid-Hudson Region is expected to reach Phase 4 on July 7.